A Technology Edison Would Love: The Solar Sponge

Fix this picture in your mind:

  • A four inch disk
  • Resembles a dirty sponge
  • Floats on water
  • Converts 85% of incoming sunlight to steam!

A Technology Edison Would Love: The Solar SpongeBorn at MIT, this new material, known as a “solar sponge” is far more efficient at converting water to steam – generating steam using a 10X solar concentration input, the lowest solar concentration ever for steam generation.

The dirty part of the sponge is attributable to graphite flakes, specially treated, which absorbs the solar energy. The bottom of the sponge has a coating of carbon foam to provide an insulating effect.

Making steam in a laboratory beakerThis technology holds great potential for solar thermal power generation, as well as desalination; and could be used in hygiene and sterilization applications. It could be a game-changer for water treatment in isolated, impoverished areas-essentially small-scale technology for producing potable water. Each year close to 50,000 people a year in Africa die from ingesting polluted water, so something like the solar sponge would be a much welcome technology.

Editor’s Deep Dive

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

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